Friday, May 12, 2006

"The Pulpit Disgraced by the Lion of the Lobby"

Upon reprinting Hamilton's case presented in the Washington Capitol newspaper ("Hamilton's organ" according to A.C. Osborn), the Eagle's view of Rev. Osborn changed dramatically as demonstrated by the above headline. Though remaining skeptical toward Hamilton's purity, the Eagle was convinced by the letters exposed by Hamilton of the Osborn brothers' venality. Accepting Hamilton's accusations without question, the Eagle was particularly angry at Rev. Osborn when learning the true extent of his role in the affair. The editors may have been particularly infuriated after realizing that Rev. Osborn had duped the Eagle when it printed his self-serving defence, without scrutiny, a few days earlier. The paper begged "every reader who values the sanctity of the profession of a Christian minister to peruse the correspondence of the Rev. Dr. Osborn, pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church, corner of Hicks and Rapelyen streets in this city."Reflecting its pre-war Democratic Party loyalty, the editors saw their opposition toward Republican Reconstruction policy justified by the gross corruption that Hamilton exposed. Osborn's bribes and threats to drive Hamilton out of office, subsequently realized, showed that "the unutterable foulness of the Southern carpet bag swindle debauches the pulpit of the North." In his "contemplation of the millions his carpet-bag brother is to steal from Florida, for the benefit of both of them," Rev. Osborn lost "all sense of honor and honesty. In his letters he seems unconscious that he is proposing anything wrong, whereas every disinterested reader will see that his propositions are most infamous. The utter callousness of his tone is more revolting than even the amazing dimensions of the bribe he offers, or or the swindle he is proposing...he seems unaware that he is doing anything scandalous." Can Brooklyn, "the City of Churches retain its character and its morality, while its Doctors of Divinity thus peddle bribes among legislators, for shoveling the public lands into the pockets of their Senatorial brethren?" [Brooklyn Eagle, April 14, 1871].

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